France's First Lady courts controversy over allegations that she gave AIDS aid of over Rs 16 cr to close friend
France's First Lady Carla Bruni is at the centre of a controversy over the source of money paid to one of her closest friends.
The money is said to have come from Switzerland-based Global Fund, a charity set up 10 years ago to fight killer diseases in developing nations.
Charity begins at home? Carla Bruni rubbished claims that she had given charity money to her friend.
Bruni is an ambassador for the charity and fronts the Born HIV Free campaign, launched in 2010 to raise funds to protect mothers and children from Aids.
French political magazine Marianne claimed the 44-year-old wife of French president Nicolas Sarkozy gave more than �2 million (Rs 16 crore) from the Global Fund to companies belonging to Julien Civange, a 43-year-old music entrepreneur, including almost �500,000 (Rs 4.05 crore) paid directly to Civange and his four colleagues for publicising the charity.
It is alleged that the money which actually went to towards fighting Aids was minimal.
Bruni admitted that the money was paid to Civange to promote her work, but denied it came from public funds. Global Fund said all the contracts for its campaign complied with their stringent rules and procedures and the Born HIV-Free campaign underwent an independent and external review which confirmed all funds were used appropriately.
Marianne claims that Bruni asked for the money to be paid directly to Civange's companies through her personal charity foundation in France.
It is reported, there was no attempt to put the contracts out to public tender.
Marianne writes of Born HIV Free, "Its concrete actions against Aids are rare. Worse still, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy is at the centre of an international scandal: $3.5 million was paid by the Global Fund for the fight against Aids, on the margin of legality, and without going to public tender, at the demand of the First Lady, to numerous companies of one of her friends."
Rejecting claims The Global Fund, meanwhile, described the allegations as 'imprecise and misleading'. When she first became an Aids ambassador in 2008, Bruni said, "I can put all of the media coverage directed toward me to the service of a useful cause."
Celebs supporting the charity The campaign is supported by Paul McCartney, rock giants U2 and fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier